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Do you even know what polyamory is? If you do, please call me! So you think you’re polyamorous,&you need some help figuring it out for certain. While there is no universal definition of polyamory, polyamory is defined as the practice of having multiple romantic and/or sexual partners simultaneously with the full, informed consent of everyone involved. So, polyamorous people are those who are able 2 have multiple romantic and/or sexual partners at the same time. Seems simple, right? Well, it’s not always simple. You see, figuring out that you’re polyamorous can be difficult, scary even, because society conditions us 2 think of polyamory as abnormal. Before I realized I was polyamorous, I thought something was wrong with me. I had been in situations where I was in love with more than one person at once – something I was socialized 2 believe was not only impossible, but deviant as well. Through the media, religion, the government&other institutions, we’re taught that the only way 2 experience true love is 2 want one person&only that person. Society romanticizes the idea that everyone has one true soulmate,&that we won’t be happy without them – an idea which marginalizes asexual&aromantic people as well as polyamorous people. For this reason, coming 2 the conclusion that you’re polyamorous can be a challenging&emotional journey. It can also be an exciting&amazing point in ur life which can lead 2 discovering a beautiful truth about urself. It might be tough 2 unpack the issues&thoughts you might have at this point in time. Here are a few useful tips for coming out 2 urself. Take Time 2 Absorb&Articulate Your Feelings&Thoughts. Self-awareness is always a wonderful quality 2 have. In times of crisis, great change,&self-discovery, being self-aware is particularly useful. When I began 2 consider whether I was polyamorous or not, I had so many difficult thoughts&feelings. At first, I pushed all the thoughts aside because thinking about being polyamorous was so emotionally taxing for me. But eventually, I realized it was really helpful – imperative, even – for me 2 dig deep into my psyche&ask myself some probing questions. Ask urself, why is it that you feel you’re polyamorous? Is it that you feel that you’re capable of loving more than one person at a time? Do you feel you need 2 love more than one person at a time? Do you feel you need 2 be loved by more than one person at a time? Or is ur reason completely different? Do you feel OK with the idea of being in a relationship with someone who’s in relationships with others? You might want 2 reflect on past relationships. If you felt that you had 2 conform 2 monogamous standards before, how did it work for you? When I explored these questions, I had 2 look back at my past relationships with a different lens. While I had been in happy, healthy monogamous relationships, I occasionally found myself developing feelings for people while still feeling committed 2 others. At the time I thought of myself as a selfish, awful person – but now I began 2 realize I was just a confused polyamorous person who struggled 2 manage their feelings. How do you feel about monogamy? Jealousy? Sharing romantic and/or sexual partners with other people? You might not have all the answers right now. And that’s perfectly OK – this is a journey 2 self-awareness, not an exam! The answers 2 these questions might change over time. Remember that as people change, the way they approach their relationships might change. The way we might experience love, romance and/or sexual attraction – if we experience it at all! – can be very fluid. When I entered my first polyamorous relationship, I honestly had more questions than answers. I still find myself constantly re-examining previous perceptions I had about myself&my sexuality. My feelings change depending on my partner, my emotional situation,&my mental health. For example, I hardly ever feel jealous about sharing my partner with other people, but if I’m feeling insecure about my career, body or financial situation, I tend 2 be more jealous. This feeling of jealousy usually signifies that I have 2 dig deep emotionally&ask myself why I feel insecure. It’s incredibly important 2 stay aware of these feelings&to manage them when they come instead of denying they exist at all. Imagine What Your Life Might Be Like If You Were Practicing Polyamory. In a world where we’re socialized 2 think of monogamy as ‘normal’&‘natural’, we often feel the need 2 downplay our fantasies – especially those that don’t conform 2 the societal norm. Dreaming enables us 2 find our desires; it helps us realize what we want,&ultimately, who we are. And, when it comes 2 discovering you’re polyamorous, it can be difficult 2 know what you want for this very reason. So – let urself fantasize. What would a polyamorous lifestyle look like for you? What do you want out of polyamory? Whether you’re daydreaming at work, school or university, in the shower, or at night before you fall asleep, try 2 consider what you truly want. Perhaps you’d find it useful 2 write or draw in a journal so that you can keep a record of ur ideas&desires. Remember, of course, that ur desires will change over time. Right now, I am in a committed romantic&sexual relationship with one partner. However, we both have the freedom 2 date others if we so desire. This set-up makes me happy,&I would feel happy if they had other partners, or if I had other partners. In a few years’ time, I imagine myself 2 be living with one or more partners. About ten years from now, I could imagine myself living&raising a family with more than one partner. But as I get older, my desires might change depending on my experiences, feelings, career&my partners’ desires. I know what I want at this point in time, but it might change,&I’m OK with that. Please bear in mind that the point of this exercise is not 2 set rigid, time-constrained goals for ur relationships. Our expectations don’t always match up with reality&that’s OK – sometimes, the realities we create are better than our fantasies, especially when it comes 2 relationships. Rather, the purpose of this exercise is 2 explore ur dreams, desires&fantasies so that you can begin 2 think deeply about what you want&who you are. Connect with Other Polyamorous, Polycurious,&Polyfriendly People. It can be really helpful 2 find a community that understands you&accepts you as you are. Polyamorous communities exist both offline&online, in the forms of social media groups, discussion boards,&websites. It’s a great idea 2 use these spaces 2 meet new people. I’m not just talking about meeting other polyamorous people in order 2 date them. Platonic relationships with other polyamorous people can be extremely valuable. These friendships can be a great source of mutual support, comfort&love. In a society where polyamory is seldom recognized, let alone tolerated, it can be comforting&healing 2 find a place where polyamory is both understood&celebrated. Go Consume Some Polyamorous Literature! When I came 2 the conclusion that I was polyamorous, it really helped 2 research polyamory online. When I was confused about how polyamorous relationships could work, I turned 2 the words of more experienced polyamorous people for guidance&comfort. And when I was unsure about how 2 handle certain situations, I read the musings of experts on polyamory in order 2 guide my thinking. There is so much out there on polyamory – so much that it can be a little overwhelming! So if you’re not sure where 2 start, begin by looking at these three key areas: Read about the ethics&theory of polyamory. Personally, I really enjoyed reading The Ethical Slut: A Practical Guide 2 Polyamory, Open Relationships & Other Adventures as well as More than Two. The latter book’s author also runs a useful&comprehensive website on polyamory. Read about other people’s experiences. I found it particularly comforting 2 read about how a few other polyamorous people felt in monogamous relationships, because it really struck a chord with me – I remember feeling the same sense of incompletion&inadequacy that others were describing. It comforted me,&I felt less alone. Reading about other people’s experiences&feelings can not only be comforting, but insightful. It can help you think deeply about the situations you come across, and, sometimes, it can help guide ur choices for the better. Read about useful skills for polyamorous relationships. Communicating, managing jealousy&insecurity, time management&setting boundaries are all useful relationship skills. If&when you eventually try a polyamorous set-up for urself, those skills become even more important. So get a head-start by thinking about which skills you need 2 work on. Start Challenging Your Internalized Heteronormativity. “True love only comes around once.” “Love is when you want 2 be with one person&only them.” “The One.” The language we commonly use when we discuss love&romance is very heteronormative. These messages suggest that the beauty of love is that it’s exclusive – that if we really love someone, we can’t love anybody else but them. This can cause many polyamorous people 2 doubt themselves. This sort of mentality is ultimately a part of heteronormativity. Heteronormativity is a word that refers 2 the societal structure which privileges certain types of romantic&sexual relationships over others. One of the underlying assumptions of heteronormativity is that heterosexuality&monogamy are natural&superior 2 other forms of sexual&romantic attraction. They suggest that love is a universal&uniform experience. We often think of heteronormativity leading 2 homophobic or queerphobic attitudes, but it also leads 2 attitudes which oppress polyamorous people. Heteronormative attitudes try 2 tell us that we all experience attraction&sex in the same way –&this is simply not true. We experience romantic&sexual attraction in a number of different ways. Some people don’t experience romantic and/or sexual attraction at all,&that’s entirely OK! It might be helpful 2 start thinking about the way we talk about love. Try 2 recognize how our language&assumptions about romance is rooted in heteronormativity. Once we start 2 think critically about the language we use, we can start thinking about how we’ve internalized heteronormative messages. Since heteronormativity says that polyamory is abnormal, unnatural&wrong, it can result in us polyamorous people feeling ashamed of ourselves. This deep-seated shame can prevent us from practicing self-love&nurturing healthy relationships. For example, heteronormativity tells us that we only need 2 love one person at once. Heteronormativity tells us that, if someone truly loves us, they won’t want anyone else. Of course, in polyamorous situations, one person might love multiple partners at once. If one of those partners believes, at a conscious or subconscious level, that you can only love one person at once, they’re likely 2 feel upset, unloved&unwanted. Perhaps they’ll feel jealous&act unloving towards their partner as a result. If they identify&manage this belief, they can begin 2 feel better. As you can see, it’s incredibly important that we identify internalized heteronormativity&tell it 2 fuck off whenever it shows up. Always remember that ur experiences are valid, ur feelings are valid&the way you love is valid. Coming 2 the conclusion that you’re polyamorous can be difficult, but it can be an exciting&wonderful experience too. Embrace&enjoy the journey. Use this as an opportunity for introspection&self-discovery. Take time 2 marvel at the beauty of it all – consider how beautiful it is that humans can experience love in so many different ways. Above all else, remember that no matter how you eventually identify, ur experiences&feelings are valid, valuable,&beautiful.